Petition Allow companions to Ante-natal Scans.

pregnant women won’t be allowed to take companions to ante-natal scans under new rules aiming to prevent the spread of covid to patients and staff.

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There are many people going through fertility treatments, many miscarriages, the scan anticipations are so high for both, mother and father. This is heartbreaking for one of the party to be there alone. What if the scan doesn’t go to plan? What if this will be their first and only chance to experience seeing their first child? No one knows what people go through to try and conceive. Let’s keep current rules ie: companions only allowed in for scan and straight out.

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Ministers responded

This response was given on 8 February 2021

The importance of the support that partners and relatives can provide to pregnant women is recognised but this needs to be balanced against the need to keep women and staff safe from Covid.

It is widely recognised that women value the support from a partner, relative, friend or other person through pregnancy and childbirth as it facilitates emotional wellbeing and is a key component to safe and personalised maternity care. Jersey maternity services supports the position, however, this does need to be safely balanced in the context of preventing and controlling the spread of COVID 19 infection to keep women and staff safe.

Fulfilling our commitment to women throughout their pregnancy has continued in terms of support and having birth partners attending the birth and postnatally.
The challenge in the current COVID 19 context is that we are operating in a hospital environment which is widely recognised as outdated in terms of modern building standards and which therefore impedes infection control guidance.
The waiting area in the clinic is small with physical distancing measures in place reducing capacity to four chairs. The waiting area is the only area for women to wait whilst attending antenatal clinical, PAWS (Pregnancy and Wellbeing Study) and ultrasound appointments. Women and partners would have to wait outside or in carparks to reduce flow; this could be logistically challenging.

We stopped partners attending for antenatal scans on 14/12/2020.

In advance of the decision, Jersey maternity services undertook a risk assessment in the context of the following:
1) COVID activity in the island at the time was 800+ cases with evidence of a high rate of community transmission
2) 1 fulltime sonographer who can provide the full range of ultrasonography services
3) The physical layout in the antenatal clinic – it only has one way in and out and therefore we are unable to operate a one-way system, which makes it very challenging to ensure that physical distancing is adhered to
4) An average of 25 scans a day, plus women attending for clinic appointments
5) It is not logistically easy to relocate the scanning facilities as the clinical equipment requires specific data ports and would require complete reconfiguration of the antenatal clinic reducing services in other areas
6) The scanning rooms are poorly ventilated
7) Availability of PCR testing at the time – only available to women and partners requiring an overnight admission. In line with hospital policy, partners and women would have to isolate prior to scan appointment and this could prove difficult for those not able to work from home.

Provision was made for partners to attend birth and postnatally following their negative PCR test result and this remains in place.

A further review has been undertaken during January 2021 as part of HCS’s commitment to ensure the safe and effective processes are in place to support women and staff during the Covid-19 pandemic. This included a review of the same aspects as above, including the current context of COVID activity in the community, where the risk of transmission in our current environment remains high.

We only have one hospital and one maternity service on-island. If individuals were to breach isolation following the PCR test [the test being a condition of partners attending], there would be a risk of bringing COVID into the unit and into the hospital.

The decision remains that partners are not able to attend antenatal scans until further notice. The position will be regularly reviewed.

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At 5,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in the States Assembly

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